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Acura MDX vs Lexus GX 470 vs Mercedes-Benz M Class

imabotaimabota Posts: 13
edited March 20 in Acura
I am in the fortunate position of selecting a new SUV...coming out of a MB ML 350...considering the new 2006 ML 350, Lexus GX 470, and Acura MDX. If the prices are similar, what is the best SUV and why? Appreciate any input.
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Comments

  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    Carrying kids to the mall? Towing a trailer? Going offroad?
  • I have two teen drivers...so safety and handling are important as we live amid winding hilly country roads. A lot of local driving, some highway and occasional long road trips. Thanks.
  • If safety is most important, you may want to also consider the Volvo XC-90. I've looked at all these cars/trucks. The MDX really can't compare with the GX 470. It's like apples and oranges... or to be more specific--cars and trucks, since the MDX is basically a dressed up Honda mini-van, whereas the GX470 is a gilded Toyota 4Runner. The MDX feels more like driving a sedan--you feel the road more, but the GX can tow and go off road in ways the MDX wouldn't dream about. If you're looking at the MDX, you might also like the Lexus RX which is its main competitor. Another consideration: the MDX has a six cyl engine vs. the GX V8. Mileage will be a lot better in the MDX. In the end, drive both, and chances are one or the other will speak to you. For me, it was the GX 470!
    HTH:)
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    I would not put a teen driver in ANY SUV. SUVs are far more likely to roll over during an accident. They are far more likely to roll over due to mishandling -- that is, in an emergency lane change, if you turn the wheel first, then brake, rather than the other way around, the weight shift can cause a spin leading to a roll-over.

    You haven't said anything about towing or going offroad. That suggests to me that you don't need an SUV. I strongly recommend getting a wagon instead.

    If you need all wheel drive, get an all wheel drive wagon instead (e.g., Subaru Legacy, Audi A4/A6, Mercedes E-class wagon with 4Matic).
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    I'm not the only one who cautions against getting an SUV for a teen driver. An article in USA today reads, in part, "...Most safety experts caution against SUVs for teens. Young drivers tend to overcorrect when steering out of trouble, which makes them more prone to roll their vehicles..."

    Full text here: http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2005-03-02-teens-cars-what-drive-usat_x.htm
  • Hmmm Safety and handling, thats like saying you want to go cliff diving but you want no risk. The best way to be safe in a SUV is to drive slow, especially around the corners. With that said, out of the 3 that you mentioned, the best handling SUV have to be the ML, unless you get the GX with the KDSS option. I would stay away from the 06 ML since it is a first year production car and ML is well known for quality control issues. All three are pretty safe SUVs but in my opinion the GX has the advantage because it is a ladder on frame design rather than a unibody.
  • Thanks for all the sensible input...it all makes sense. I (mom) am the primary driver. I enjoy driving a responsive car that is also surefooted in the snow on hilly, winding roads...but also want comfort for frequent long road trips. Has anyone found a car that has it all?
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    I suggest that you check out the Subaru Legacy GT, the Audi A6, the Mercedes E-class station wagon with 4Matic, and Volvo's all-wheel-drive large wagon. All of those will do just fine in the snow. On winding roads, they'll handle a whole lot better than a tall SUV. The extra ground clearance of the SUV isn't going to buy you anything unless you expect to be driving through 8" of unplowed snow.

    I've found that the single most important factor in driving through snow is to get a set of snow tires -- not all seasons tires, but a separate, dedicated set of snow tires. I've got a set of Nokians on my 4Runner and went through several hundred yards of 12" of unplowed snow last weekend.

    As for comfort on a long drive, you'll have to judge that for yourself in both the front and back seats. I think you'll find the ride motions more comfortable in the station wagons (less side-to-side head-toss, less front-to-rear pitching, less dive under braking).

    My 2003 Toyota 4Runner is very similar to the Lexus GX470. They're basically the same frame and drivetrain. The GX470 is a bit heavier, has a taller roofline, and more luxury features. My 2003 4Runner has very little on-center feel in the steering and the steering is very fast (few turns lock-to-lock). That, combined with the tall wind-catching body, result in a truck that wanders quite a bit on the highway. You really have to pay attention to keep it in the lane. On a windy day, it really gets blown around.

    In addition, the 4Runner (and the GX470) has a solid rear axle, instead of an independent suspension, and therefore a lot of unsprung weight. The heavier the unsprung weight, the harder the suspension has to work to control the axle when it goes over a bump. The result is that I really feel the axle moving around when I go over bumps. On a bumpy highway, there is a fore-aft pitching or pogoing that I find very tiring.

    Recently I drove out Route 2 in Massachusetts through the Berkshire Mountains and came back on Route 9 in Vermont through the Green Mountains. These are steep, winding, 2 lane highways. I would have much preferred to have been in a sedan or station wagon on those turns.

    On the rare occasions that I drive my wife's Mercedes C240 sedan, I'm always struck by how much better it drives -- it tracks the lane much better, the ride is much better, it corners much more confidantly, etc.

    The Lexus GX470 may be somewhat better than my 4Runner, but it is basically the same truck under the skin so I suspect it will be quite similar. My 4Runner's ride is pretty good -- for a truck. It's handling is pretty good -- for a truck. It's braking is pretty good -- for a truck. But you'll never mistake it for a good sedan or station wagon.

    I accept those limitations because I need the offroad capability; I took it offroad twice last weekend and will be taking it offroad tomorrow morning.

    But if you don't need that offroad capability, you might want to look at a station wagon, or dare I say it, a minivan.

    Parking my 4Runner can be a bit of a challenge. When backing up, you can't see the hood the car behind you, so you really don't know how close you are. If you do get an SUV, I'd look for one with a backup sensor or backup camera. Otherwise it is very easy to hit something while backing up.

    It's your money. If you want an SUV, then by all means get an SUV. All vehicles are compromises. SUVs have extra capability (offroad, higher ground clearance) but that comes at a cost. I'm just trying to let you know what some of the compromises are so you can make your own informed decision.
  • For one, the prices really aren't that similar. We've been comparing the Acura MDX, Lexus GX470, and Volvo XC90. I think you'll find that the MDX is significantly less expensive than the GX470, and in many respects the GX is worth the extra money if what you get for the extra money is worth it to you. What you'll get is a much more refined interior, a strong V8 engine (but significantly -- about 20% -- worse gas mileage), and real off-road and towing capability. You'll pay probably $6-7k more for the Lexus than the MDX (note that while the 3rd row is "optional" on the GX, good luck finding one without it if you don't want it). Also, if you care about the 3rd row, the one in the GX will be useless for anyone over 8 years old, while the one in the MDX will probably comfortably accomodate most 13 year olds and smaller adults.

    We've settled on the MDX simply because the GX is nicer in ways that aren't as relevant for us in particular. We have 2 small children and a dog, so the more refined interior in the GX is really just wasted on us - my wife thought it was "too nice". We also don't need to tow more than 3,000 pounds, nor do we drive off road in a meaningful way. We also liked some of the interior gadgetry of the MDX -- the excellent Nav and Voice Recognition, the new ability to integrate our iPod, Bluetooth, etc. But I did love the GX and would recommend it highly to anyone in the market for a lux SUV -- it just wasn't ideal for us.
  • I just traded in my 03 MDX for the GX. The built quality on the GX is far superior. In my opinion, the MDX was poorly design and poorly built. It had many design issues that Acura have yet to address in its 6 year run.
    Much like you, I was very impressed by the value of the MDX. I like the way it looks and that wonderful V6. The way the seat folded was very practical. I must admit, the MDX was very hard to beat at first sight.
    The problem with the MDX was design tolerance and built quality. Both very poor, after a year or two, it had a bunch of small problems and rattles. Unless you were leasing a MDX for 2 or 3 years, I would not recommend the MDX, especially if you plan to keep the vehicle for a long time.
  • howehowe Posts: 22
    When I see a GX on the road, I can't get over how narrow and tall it is. Just looks wrong to me though inside it is nice. Roll-over probablity stats from NHSA for the MDX is 15%, one of the lowest in class where the GX and 4-Runner are up in the 20's. Nevertheless, the 4-Runner looks more stable. Probably just an illusion. Both the 4-Runner and Lexus GX eat you alive with options while on the MDX its a short list. Ultimately, the Lexus ends up costing quite a bit more. If I could afford it, I'd buy a Landcruiser or LX470. They are great vehicles, but at $60K+++ with options, I draw the line at the MDX which can be had for $33K - $38K and well worth it. In these cases, you get what you pay for.
  • The GX is a tall vehicle. That why the GX has so much more headroom than the 4runner and it also has a higher sitting position. The GX looks especially tall from the back due to the fact that the tail light sits so high, but dimension wise, is no taller than any other body on flame vehicle, like say a Trailbazer.
    As far as the NHSA's rollover ratings, they dont really roll over the vehicles, they just input the vehicle's width and height into a formula and come up with a % of probability of room over. It doesnt take into account that the GX is a body on frame design and the MDX is a uni-body design. The body on frame design has a much lower center of gavity.
    The MDX was actually test by road and track as one of the most unstable vehicle in its class in emergency handling, even with the addition of the VSC in 03, it is still rated very low. While the GX has one of the best VSC on the market. It is much more stable in snow or rain. I owned both the MDX and the GX, the GX's VSC actually works and the MDX's VSC just plain old dont work.
  • howehowe Posts: 22
    The '03 was an early implementation of Acura's VSA design. The MDX VSA was significantly improved after '03. Consumer Reports test was based on the '03 model and found shortcommings that are now remedied in the '05 and '06 models.

    The 2005 MDX features 4-channel Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) that has been enhanced with active yaw control for increased driver control during accident avoidance maneuvers, aggressive cornering and inclement weather. The VSA system monitors lateral (cornering) stability and seamlessly integrates traction control, 4-wheel drive, Anti-lock braking, throttle control and stability control functions.

    If you are comparing an '03 MDX to a current GX, it may not be a fair comparison. :)
  • davidc1davidc1 Posts: 167
    My wife and I considered both MDX and GX before we got the GX. We thought the MDX was the best SUV for the price. If you want to stay around $40k, MDX IMO, is the way to go. At around $50k, we liked the GX. The materials and general feel was more luxurious and I liked the air suspension, low range 4WD, V8, tow rating, etc..
    Also keep in mind that this might be the last model year for MDX before revision, though I can't be sure.
  • Thank you for all the thoughtful responses. I'm realizing that one reason I'm partial to the GX 470 is comfort. When driving long distances, my posture is better (I sit up straighter) with armrests and my back hurts less when I get out of the car. Today, I sat in the MDX, XC90, X5, SRX, Highlander, Landcruiser, RL, TL, and BMW 5 and 7, seeking armrests. Only the Landcruiser (and GX 470) and Highlander had armrests (does the RX 330?). Actually, the center consoles are raised in most of these vehicles to act as armrests, but when I pull the seat forward so I can reach the pedals, the armrests are behind me and useless (I'm 5'3") :cry: , whereas the Lexus and Toyotas have armrests attached to the seats so when the driver moves forward, the armrests go with her :) . So now I am thinking about the Lexus GX470 (Landcruiser's too big for my needs) and I'm going to take a look at the RX 330. Does anyone have any thoughts about the RX330 vs the GX470 (Highlander seats are smaller and seem to offer less support). Has anyone else noticed this?
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    is a car based SUV. In other words, it is bascially a raised Camry with a simple AWD system. It uses unibody (aka monocoque) construction.

    The GX470 is a truck-based SUV. It has a separate body and frame.

    The GX470 is heavier (read: worse gas mileage), has a higher towing ability, and much better offroad ability. The RX330 is going to drive more like a car than the GX470.

    I'm NOT a fan of the GX470's rear door. It swings to the side and the window does not open. Take a long look at that and see if it works for you. If you regularly parallel park, then you may find loading into the rear of the truck when parallel parked is not convenient.

    I also recommend that you take a long test drive on the highway with the GX470. Look for a bumpy highway, if possible. See how well it tracks the lane and how much it wanders. As I mentioned previously, my 2003 4Runner is built on the same frame as the GX470 and has basically the same running gear. My 4Runner wanders quite a bit on the highway, making long trips very tiring. Check and see if the GX470 does the same.

    I suspect that the RX300 may work better for. The GX470's added capabilities (towing and offroad) are things that you would not utilize. YMMV.
  • "The 2005 MDX features 4-channel Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) that has been enhanced with active yaw control for increased driver control during accident avoidance maneuvers, aggressive cornering and inclement weather. The VSA system monitors lateral (cornering) stability and seamlessly integrates traction control, 4-wheel drive, Anti-lock braking, throttle control and stability control functions."

    Did that come from a 2005 MDX brochure? Don't believe everything you read. One of my friend has a 05 MDX, and he also agree that the MDX is not good in the snow as the GX. He was amaze by the traction that the GX provides, but we both agree that the 3rd row seat arrangement is better on the MDX, but thats a non factor for me since I never use the 3rd row seat.

    Have a happy holiday everyone.
  • howehowe Posts: 22
    Yeah, that was from the Acura website. Not hype, just a technical and factual dialogue about how Acura's system operates.

    Granted, the GX is a well built vehicle and has advantages as it should for $15,000 more than a similarily equipted MDX.

    Then again, they are different vehicles. The 4 Runner / GX are real SUV's. The MDX is an AWD wagon and a good one. To call it an SUV, as it does in the brochure, causes confusion.
  • davidc1davidc1 Posts: 167
    I concur. If you are not towing anything heavy or going off road, MDX is what I recommend for the money. From what I hear, it's just as reliable as GX and it costs 10k less.
  • Many people are buying the GX at invoice now, It is roughly about $5000 more than the MDX touring. While it is true that both the MDX and the GX are very reliable vehicle, the GX is far superior in built quality and quality of material used. I dont do any towing or off roading, I bought the GX for the reasons I mention above. Coming off a 03 MDX, I was so disspointed in how badly the MDX was slap together. The rattles, the clucking brakes, the sloshing gas tank, the shifting driver seat and muffler drone. The The Lexus engineers and the Japenese factory that built the GX did a much better job.
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